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Laurea Magistrale in Physics

The course of: Quantum Electrodynamics (FIS/02)

Code: DF0022 CFU: 6+2
Teacher: Prof. Zurab Berezhiani

This course is an introduction to Quantum Electrodynamics, starting from the bases of

Classical Electrodynamics. It is theoretical but adaptable for all students, theorists as
well as for experimentalists, according to scientific orientation and educational needs of
students. Thus some topics may be varied, omitted or only highlighted, and some other
topics can be added.

Summary of the Program

• Lorentz invariance and Minkowski space, four-vectors, tensors and spinors, relativi-
stic cinema tics

• Concept of the fields, symmetry principles and conservation laws, Noether’s theorem

• Electromagnetic field, Maxwell equatios and gauge invariance

• Electromagnetic waves, electromagnetic radiation, diffusion of waves

• Second quantisation of scalar and electromagnetic fields: particles, quants and

photons Feynman propagator

• Fermions and Dirac equation. Second quantisation of fermion fields.

• Concept of antiparticles

• Statistics of Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein

• Elettromagnetic interaction: perturbative expansion and S–matrix. Feynman dia-


• Processes in Quantum Elettrodinamics: Scattering of Bhabha e Moeller, Compton

scattering and electron–positron annihilation.

Detailed Program

1. Maxwell equations and relativity in the hystorical light. Lorentz and Poincare tran-
sformations and Minkowski space. Interval, proper time and 4-velocity. Four-vectors
and tensors. Relativistic cinematics. Energy-momentum vector.
2. Concept of the field and its physical interpretation. The field as a system with
infinite degress of freedom. Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalisms for classical
fields. The minimal action principle and Euler-Lagrange equation of motion for the
scalar and vector fields.
3. Symmetries and conservation laws: Noether theorem. Translational invariance and
energy-momentum tensor. Lorentz-invariance and angular momentum.
4. Relativistic equation of motion of a charged particle in the electromagnetic field.
Four-potential of the electromagnetic field. Electric force and Lorentz force. Motion
of the charged particles in the uniform electric and magnetic fields. Electromagnetic
field tensor and Lorentz transformations. The gauge invariance. Invariants of the
electromagnetic field.
5. Action of the electromagnetic field. Four-current and the equation of the continuity.
The electric charge conservation. Maxwell equations in the covariant form. First
copy of the Maxwell equations as consequence of gauge invariance. Impossibility of
magnetic monopoles as point-like particles.
6. Energy density and flux of the electromagnetic field. The vector of Poyinting.
Energy-momentum tensor of the electromagnetic field. Energy-momentum tensor
of the macroscopic bodies.
7. Constant electric field. Coulomb law. Electrostatic energy of a charged particle
and electric radius of the electron. System of the charges in external field. Dipole
moment and multipoles. Constant agnatic field. Magnetic moment and Larmor
8. Electromagnetic waves in the vacuum. Ondular equation and plane waves. Lorentz
gauge. Monochromatic plane waves. Spectral decomposition.
9. Partially polarised light. Linear and circular polarisations and Stokes parametri-
sation. Proper oscillations of the electromagnetic field and view of photons as
second-quantised oscillations.
10. Fields induced by moving particles: anticipated and retarded potentials. Field
induced by a charge moving with a constant velocity. Field induced by a charge
moving with acceleration. Spectral decomposition of the retarded potentials.
11. Electromagnetic radiation from the finite system. Field at the large distances from
the system of charges. Dipole radiation. Qaudrupole radiation and magnetic di-
pole radiation. Electromagnetic radiation from a rapidly moving charged particles.
Synchrotron radiation and radiation damping (qualitative descriptions).

12. Scattering of electromagnetic waves by the free charges. Formula of Thomson. Scat-
tering of electromagnetic waves at small and large frequencies. Limits of classical

13. Quantum electrodynamics as quantum theory of the fields and particles: quantum
dualism between the wave and particle descriptions of the light and of the electrons.
Quantisation of the field as of a system with infinite degrees of freedom.

14. Classical scalar field as a system of the connected oscillators, and the equation of
Klein-Gordon. Second-quantization of a free scalar field: creation and annihilation
operators and Fock space. Quantum nteractions vs. classical non-linearity. Scalar
field condensate and concept of the spontaneous symmetry breaking (qualitative

15. Anticipated and retarded correlators between the fields, concept of the causality
and role of the Lorentz-invariance. Time ordering of the operators. Concept of the
Feynman propagator and of the virtual particle in the light of the indetermination

16. Second quantisation of the electromagnetic field: photon as a particle of spin 1.

Lagrangian of Fermi and gauge fixing. Operators of the photon creation and an-
nihilation. Time and longitudinal compnents of the photon: problem of the nega-
tive energy and negative probability. Formalism of Gupta-Bleiler. Fock space for

17. Feynman propagator for the photon and quantum interpretation of the classical
Coulomb field. Why the photon is massless? Fundamentale role of the gauge in-
variance. Massive vector field and Proca equation. Qualitative anticipation of the
Higgs mechanism and superconductivity.

18. Fermions and Dirac equation. Spinors and their properties. γ-matrices of Dirac.
Covariance of Dirac equation with respect to the Lorentz transformations.

19. Plane-wave solutions for the Dirac equation. Degrees of freedom of a spinor field.
Negative and positive energy solutions and spin-polarisation states. Legrangian
formalism for a spinor field. Conservation of the electric charge.

20. Second quantisation of fermionic fields. Operators of creation and annihilation:

particle and antiparticle. Fermi-Dirac statistics vs. Bose-Einstein statistics: anti-
commutators vs. commutators.

21. Quantum Electrodinamics (QED): minimal coupling of the electron current with the
electromagnet field and gauge invariance. Interaction as a perturbation. Asymptotic
states and S-matrix formalism.

22. Dyson perturbative expansion for S–matrix and Wick Theorem: trasfromation from
time ordering to normal ordering and role of propagators. Feynman diagrams
and their physical interpretation. Coupling constants and validity of perturbative

23. Elemenrtary processes in Quantum Electrodynamics. Feynman diagrams in mo-
mentum space. Elementary processes in case of identical particles. Importance of
quantum interference terms.

24. Amplitudes of elementary processes in Quantum Electrodynamics and respecti-

ve diagrams of Feynman: Compton scattering and its classical (Thomson) limit.
Electron-positron annihilation.

25. Rutherford, Bhabha and Moeller scatterings and their diagrammatic description.
Analysis of correspondent cross sections and their classical limite classico.

Suggested Literature

1. L. D. Landau and E. M. Lifshitz, ”The Classical Theory of Fields”, The Landau

Course of Theoretical Physics Vol. 2.

2. J. D. Jackson, ”Classical Electrodynamics”, John Wiley & Sons, New York, London,

3. F. Melia, ”Electrodynamics”, Chicago Lectures of Physics, Ed. R. Wald, Chicago

Univ. Press

4. V. B. Berestezkii, E. M. Lifshitz and L. P. Pitaevskii, ”Quantum Electrodynamics”,

The Landau Course of Theoretical Physics Vol. 4.

5. F. Mandl and G. Shaw, ”Quantum Field Theory”, A Wiley-Interscience Publica-

tions, John Wiley & Sons

6. M. E. Peskin, D. V. Schroeder, ”An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory”, The

Advanced Books Program, Perseus Books, Cambridge MA

7. M. Kaku, ”Quantum Field Theory”, A modern introduction, Oxford Univ. Press

8. L. Ryder, ”Quantum Field Theory”, Cambridge Univ. Press

9. A. Zee, ”Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell”, Princeton Univ. Press

10. S. Weinberg, ”The Quantum Theory of Fields”, Volume I: Foundations, Cambridge

Univ. Press

Approfondimento ( + 2 CFU)
The themes can be chosen in relation to individual orientation of students: theoretical,
experimental, astrophysical etc. E.g.:

1. Geometrical optics. Equation of iconal. Limits of geometrical optics. Fresnel and

Fraunhofer diffractions.

2. Radiation induced by particle scatterings. Bremstrahlung. Radiation of a charge

moving in Coulombian field.

3. Electromagnetic fields in plasma. Elements of MHD. freezing of magneti fields in


4. Faraday rotation in Plasma. Valutazione di campo magnetico in Galassia tramite

Faraday Rotation.

5. Electromagnetic processes in cosmos. Inverse Compton scattering. Production of

electron-positron pairs in propagation of high energy photons in the background of
relic microwave radiation.

6. Represetations SL(2, C) e SU (2) × SU (2) for spinors. γ matrices in Dirac, Weyl

and Majorana representations. Massless fermions and chiral symmetry. Chirality
and helicity. The neutrino case. Fermion mass as perturbation.

7. Invariances C, P and T in quantum field theory and CPT theorem.

8. Radiative corrections. Virtual particles and vacuum polarisation. Photon-photon

scattering (Euler-Heisenberg interactioj).

9. Spin and magnetic moment of the electron: Dirac equation and origin of giro
magnetic ratio g = 2. Anomalous magnetic moment

10. Scalar electrodynamics.

11. Quantum filed theories in the formalism of path integrals.

... and other possible themes agreed with the teacher